Stanford's Ogwumike, Baylor's Sims highlight 2014 Wooden Watch List

October 23, 2013 - 8:47pm
Stanford forward Chiney Ogwumike is one of two 2013 John R. Wooden All Americans named to the preseason watch list for 2014's Wooden Player of the Year Award. (File photo by Lee Michaelson)

Stanford forward Chiney Ogwumike is one of two 2013 John R. Wooden All Americans named to the preseason watch list for 2014's Wooden Player of the Year Award. (File photo by Lee Michaelson)

LOS ANGELES — Stanford forward Chiney Ogwumike and Baylor point guard Odyssey Sims, both of whom were named to last year's Wooden All-American team, highlight the list of 30 college athletes named to the watch list for this year's John R. Wooden Award and All-American team. The 2014 John R. Wooden Award Women's Preseason Top 30, popularly known as the preseason Wooden watch, was announced today by the Los Angeles Athletic Club.

Created in 1976 and first extended to women in 2004, the John R. Wooden Award is considered one of the most prestigious individual honors in college basketball.  The watch list, chosen by a preseason poll of national college women’s basketball media members, is comprised of 30 student-athletes who, based on last year’s individual performance and team records, are the early front-runners for the award.

Brittney Griner, the first Baylor player ever to receive the Wooden Award, took home the honor in both 2012 and 2013, joining Seimone Augustus (LSU, 2005, 2006), Candace Parker (Tennessee, 2007, 2008) and Maya Moore (Connecticut, 2009, 2011) as two-time winners. Ogwumike and Sims, both in their junior years, joined Griner, Delaware's Elena Delle Donne and Notre Dame's Skylar Diggins, all seniors, as finalists for the award and members of the 2013 Wooden All-American team. Ogwumike, whose sister Nneka, now playing for the WNBA's Los Angeles Sparks, was also a Wooden All-American, was the Pac-12 Player of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year in 2012-13, averaging 22.4 points and 12.9 rebounds last season. Sims enters her senior season ranking No. 2 all-time at Baylor in both assists (469) and three-point shooting (.405).

Both players hope to lead their teams to top national finishes in 2013-14. But when it comes to the individual honors, they'll have plenty of competition from the remaining 28 players named to this year's preseason watch list. Connecticut boasts four players on the preseason Top 30 list: Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis, Bria Hartley, Stefanie Dolson, and Breanna Stewart, all of whom played key roles in the school’s NCAA title run in 2013 with Stewart earning Final Four MVP honors. Other names of note include Louisville’s Shoni Schimmel, who made her mark on the national scene with an impressive performance in the 2013 NCAA Tournament, helping lead her team to the national championship game where they fell to UConn, and Florida International’s Jerica Coley, the country’s top scorer a year ago at 26.3 points per game. And there's no shortage of hardware in the trophy cases of others on the accomplished list.

In addition to Connecticut, five other schools had multiple players chosen: Duke (Elizabeth Williams, Chelsea Gray, Tricia Liston); California (Brittany Boyd, Gennifer Brandon); Notre Dame (Kayla McBride, Natalie Achonwa); Tennessee (Bashaara Graves, Meighan Simmons); and North Carolina (Diamond DeShields, Xylina McDaniel). The ACC led all conferences with nine selections on the list, followed by the Pac-12 and newly formed American Athletic Conference with five apiece; the SEC with four; the Big 12 and Big Ten with three each; and Conference USA with one.

Experience clearly plays a role: North Carolina's Diamond DeShields is the lone freshman on this year's preseason watch list, which features 20 seniors, six juniors and three sophomores.

Sims Defends

Baylor's Odyssey Sims (No. 0) is the second of the 2013 Wooden All-Americans to return to this year's preseason Wooden watch list. (File photo by Lee Michaelson)

Today's announcement of the preseason watch list is the first step in a yearlong process to select the Wooden Player of the Year and All-American teams. A second poll, conducted midseason, will whittle the list down to 20, and by February, the Wooden Award National Advisory Board further winnows the list to a National Ballot of 15. However, players not chosen to the preseason team remain eligible to be added for both the midseason team and the National Ballot. The National Ballot consists of 15 top players who, in addition to their prowess on the basketball court,  have proven to their universities that they are also making progress toward graduation and maintaining at least a cumulative 2.0 GPA. The National Ballot is then circulated to a panel of more than 250 women's basketball media representative, who vote for their top five selections in rank order.

The 2014 Wooden Award All-American Team, consisting of the nation’s top five players, will be announced the week of the Final Four, and the Men's and Women's Players of the Year, as well as the All-American teams, will be honored at the 38th annual Wooden Award Gala the weekend of April 11-13, 2014.

Should Ogwumike make it back to Los Angeles, as either the Wooden Player of the Year or a repeat member of the women's All-American team, she will have familiar company. The Gala will also include the presentation of the Wooden Legends of Coaching Award to head coach Tara VanDerveer of Stanford, a 13-time Pac-12 Coach of the Year, who was announced in late September as the winner of this year's top honor.

The complete 2013-14 preseason Wooden watch list follows:

2013-14 John R. Wooden Award Preseason Top 30 List, Women
Player Height Class Position University Conference
Natalie Achonwa 6-3 Sr. F Notre Dame ACC
Rachel Banham 5-9 Jr. G Minnesota Big Ten
Brittany Boyd 5-9 Jr. G California Pac-12
Gennifer Brandon 6-2 Sr. F California Pac-12
Hallie Christofferson 6-3 Sr. F Iowa State Big 12
Jerica Coley 5-8 Sr. G FIU Conference USA
Jazmine Davis 5-7 Jr. PG Washington Pac-12
Diamond DeShields 6-1 Fr. G North Carolina ACC
Stefanie Dolson 6-5 Sr. C UConn The American
Aaryn Ellenberg 5-7 Sr. G Oklahoma Big 12
Bashaara Graves 6-2 So. F Tennessee SEC
Chelsea Gray 5-11 Sr. G Duke ACC
Cassie Harberts 6-2 Sr. F USC Pac-12
Bria Hartley 5-8 Sr. G UConn The American
Jordan Hooper 6-2 Sr. F Nebraska Big Ten
Tricia Liston 6-1 Sr. G Duke ACC
Maggie Lucas 5-10 Sr. G Penn State Big Ten
Tyuanna Marshall 5-9 Sr. G Georgia Tech ACC
Kayla McBride 5-11 Sr. G Notre Dame ACC
Xylina McDaniel 6-2 So. F North Carolina ACC
Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis 6-0 Jr. F UConn The American
Chiney Ogwumike# 6-4 Sr. F Stanford Pac-12
Theresa Plaisance 6-5 Sr. F LSU SEC
Shoni Schimmel 5-6 Jr. G Louisville The American
Meighan Simmons 5-9 Sr. G Tennessee SEC
Odyssey Sims# 5-8 Sr. G Baylor Big 12
DeNesha Stallworth 6-3 Sr. F Kentucky SEC
Breanna Stewart 6-4 So. F UConn The American
Alyssa Thomas 6-2 Sr. F Maryland ACC
Elizabeth Williams 6-3 Jr. C/F Duke ACC
(Based on a preseason poll. Players listed alphabetically.)
# indicates player chosen to the 2013 Wooden Award All-American Team

Source: Portions of this article were drawn from a Los Angeles Athletic Club press release.